Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered

(Girl With Pigeons) The American Folk Museum features an exhibit portraying the many paintings of Morris Hirshfield, along with background on how he started painting and the thought process behind his artwork. Hirshfield is a self-taught artist who brought inspiration to many. -- By Tiana Thais Ramirez

(Morris Hirshfield and his painting, Home with Fountains.) Hirshfield was a Jewish immigrant, tailor, and slipper manufacturer from Brooklyn, New York. He found his potential in art at the age of 65 and gained a lot of attention during his career as an artist. His art involves pictures of animals, landscapes, and often nude female figures. Sidney Janis, who is one of the most influential art dealers in the world, discovered Hirshfield’s work.

(Tiger, 1940) Hirshfield’s art conveys aesthetic insights, expansive intellect, and marketing-savvy methods which led the world to see the absolute beauty in talent from someone who was untutored.

(Stage Beauties, 1944) Stage Beauties dazzles with colors and patterns showcasing a trio of female performers. Hirshfield presented each in vibrant striped costumes that contrast with one another. Morris Hirshfield focused on precision and how delicate it is to use symmetry and contrast. His work was inspired by artists such as Picasso. The women’s faces and torsos are presented frontally however, their legs are turned in a sharp profile. Hirshfield was inspired by promotional photographs of burlesque performers, which he then recreated to capture its beauty, delivering eye-popping effects with the choice of colors and costumes.

(Landscape with House II, 1940) Born in 1872, Hirshfield was an immigrant from Poland who came to the U.S. at age 18. He didn't begin to paint until 1937. He produced over 70 works before his death in 1946.

(Boy with Dog, 1945) Hirshfield taught people to value their time and push towards learning something new, no matter one’s age, environment, or knowledge. Hirshfield’s enthusiasm when it came to his art was always so bright, as shown through his art. At the late age of 65, Hirshfield took time to learn his skillset in a variety of ways and delivered to the world his creativity.

(Parliamentary Building, 1946) On July 26, 1946, Morris Hirshfield died of a heart attack at the age of 74. Sidney Janis’s memorial tribute expressed how the day before Hirshfield died from this attack, he seemed in reasonably good health. He was talking about how he was going to start a canvas regarding the story of Adam and Eve. The following morning, he died suddenly. His relatives and family came together for the services, a quiet little funeral in Brooklyn.

(The Artist and His Model, 1045) The show is at the American Folk Art Museum (2 Lincoln Sq., Columbus Ave. at W. 65th St.) and runs through January 29, 2023.

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